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BuzzFeed acquires HuffPost as digital media companies join forces

The merger follows other similar partnerships in the media industry as companies such as Vice Media, which acquired Refinery29 in a $400 million deal.
Digital Media Company Buzzfeed's New York Headquarters
Jonah Peretti, Buzzfeed CEO, and co-founder of The Huffington Post, at Buzzfeed's New York Headquarters on Dec. 14, 2018.Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images file

Digital culture and news companyBuzzFeed has agreed to buy HuffPost from Verizon Media, the companies announced Thursday, a move that combines two of the internet's largest consumer media properties.

Verizon will also make an investment and become a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed, and the deal will see the two companies partner on shopping experiences for consumers, content syndication across each other’s platforms and ad products. BuzzFeed paid for HuffPost with company shares, the value of which was not disclosed.

The merger follows other similar partnerships in the media industry as companies such as Vice Media, which acquired Refinery29 in a $400 million deal, and Vox Media, which acquired New York Media, look to grow and evolve in the changing digital landscape. Verizon Media acquired HuffPost when it bought AOL for a reported $4.4 billion in 2015.

NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News, is an investor in BuzzFeed.

The merged company will be run by Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder and CEO, who is also one of the co-founders of the original HuffPost site, originally called The Huffington Post. An editor-in-chief will be brought on to head HuffPost, which will be run as its own brand and separate site.

“I still vividly remember the night we launched HuffPost and the excitement of growing it into a major news outlet during those early years,” Peretti said in an internal email to BuzzFeed staff, obtained by NBC News. “But we aren’t buying HuffPost because of its illustrious past or my personal connection; we pursued this opportunity because we are excited about the future of HuffPost and all the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come.”

On Thursday, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington tweeted that she was "so happy" to see the company joining forces with BuzzFeed 15 years after Peretti helped found it. "Such exciting news and looking forward to all that's to come," she said.

The deal combines two of the most successful digital media companies from different eras. HuffPost emerged as one of the first successful digital media outlets of the 2000s. BuzzFeed, launched in 2006, became the dominant digital media operation years later from a surge of readers who came primarily through social media platforms, especially Facebook.

While each was able to amass a sizable audience and attract millions of dollars in private investment, both struggled to turn a profit. Facebook and Google have remained the primary destination for digital advertising spending, with most digital media websites facing similar challenges as BuzzFeed and HuffPost.

Peretti said that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital and benefited digital-first companies and that BuzzFeed hopes this deal will enable it to “be the formidable leader in our space.” He told staffers more details would be discussed at the company’s global all-hands meeting Thursday.